31 Jan 2008, 6:03pm
Bears Endangered Specious
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U.S. Senate Report Debunks Polar Bear Extinction Fears

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the polar bear a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This report details the scientists debunking polar bear endangerment fears and features a sampling of the latest peer-reviewed science detailing the natural causes of recent Arctic ice changes.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations “may now be near historic highs.” The alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. And the methodology of these computer models is being challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts.

Canadian biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, the director of wildlife research with the Arctic government of Nunavut: “Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present,” Taylor said. “It is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.”

Evolutionary Biologist and Paleozoologist Dr. Susan Crockford of University of Victoria in Canada has published a number of papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. “Polar bears, for example, survived several episodes of much warmer climate over the last 10,000 years than exists today,” Crockford wrote. “There is no evidence to suggest that the polar bear or its food supply is in danger of disappearing entirely with increased Arctic warming, regardless of the dire fairy-tale scenarios predicted by computer models.”

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31 Jan 2008, 5:55pm
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Rocky Mountain Wolf Control Rule Goes to Court

In a bid to bar states from managing deadly predators, seven conservation groups today filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Missoula to stop the implementation of a new Bush administration rule that allows states to determine when wolves are endangering wildlife, livestock, and human life.

The rule would allow the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to control wolves that threaten wildlife populations, ranches, farms, and rural communities.

The rule applies to wolves in central Idaho and the Greater Yellowstone area - a population of blood-thirsty killers now numbering in the thousands.

The Bush administration says the rule change is necessary because wolves are the primary cause of a decline in wild ungulate numbers.

“The federal government is overlooking the benefits wolves are bringing to the states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana,” said Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold, who is representing the plaintiff groups.

This may be because there are no benefits.

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29 Jan 2008, 1:16pm
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Save Our Elk

A new website has been developed by petitioners who are attempting to get the truth out about wolves, Save Our Elk [here]. Their goal is to get concerned Idaho citizens to sign the anti-wolf ballot initiative.

Wolves kill anything, but their preferred targets are elk.

Wolves are reproducing at a rate of 30% per year and in Idaho currently number well over 1,000!

Each wolf kills an average of two elk a month for food, and another two per month for sport kill!

Do the math: We are loosing between 24,000 to 48,000 animals a year, a rate increasing by 30% a year!

Right now the Idaho elk calf-to-cow-ratio is at the lowest level in recorded history.

The wolves are killing out the future of our game herds.

When the elk herds are gone, these killer wolves will still kill, except they will change targets.

23 Jan 2008, 2:45pm
Salmon and other fish
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Sportsfishing Interests Face Ten More Years in the Wilderness

News from the Front #92 [here]

by James M. Buchal

The Feds have been centralizing all natural resource decisionmaking and putting it under wraps ever since Nixon sent Judge Boldt out here. So the action in salmon decisionmaking, at least for Columbia River harvest issues, is in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Public observers learned at a December 12, 2007 status conference before Judge Redden that the Federal government and the Northwest States and Tribes had privately advised the Court of a new ten-year secret harvest deal back in September. The deal will become final when and if NOAA Fisheries issues a biological opinion approving the deal in the next couple of months.

Judge Redden is overseeing the new biological opinion on dam operations, not harvest, but at the December 12th status conference, the attorney representing the State of Washington explained that the two opinions were “intertwined”. More specifically, he told Judge Redden: “. . . we need to get that [dam biological opinion] done in order to prop up what needs to be done in United States v. Oregon in the associated harvest [biological opinion]”.

What did he mean by “prop up”? Most people think Judge Redden’s opinions are about offsetting harm from dam operations, but when NOAA Fisheries models only the effects of dam operations on salmon populations, it can’t find that they threaten to wipe out salmon. So NOAA Fisheries is going to hide future harvest rate increases in the biological opinion on dam operations, even though it knows this is not how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. The Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries even admitted in testimony before the Northwest Power & Conservation Council in November that “if you scrupulously used the rules for writing a biological opinion [on dam operations], you wouldn’t include future biological opinions [on salmon harvest that are yet to be written]”.
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22 Jan 2008, 9:53pm
Salmon and other fish
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A New Cloud Over the Klamath Basin

News from the Front #91 [here]

by James M. Buchal

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the listing of “endangered” suckerfish, beginning the invasion of the Klamath Basin by “swarms of officers” “sent hither”, in the words of the Founders, “to harass our people and eat out their substance”. On January 15, 2008, the swarms released a draft “Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement for the Sustainability of Public and Trust Resources and Affected Communities” [here]. The title is ironic, if not Orwellian, as the true purpose and effect of the Agreement is to destroy the sustainability of a growing agricultural economy, part and parcel of a larger hollowing-out of America that becomes more and more apparent.

Dam Removal and Other Economic Losses

One overarching purpose is the destruction of productive capital in the form of dam removal, though PacifiCorp is not yet on board. Presumably one reason the draft Agreement was released, rather than being consummated in secret like so many other vital natural resource decisions, was the need to pressure PacifiCorp. Destroying clean, renewable hydropower in favor of forcing citizens to fund their foreign enemies with energy payments will someday be regarded as a great crime. For now, the answer is always the same: Uncle Sam will print up more dollars to paper over the problem, but those days will soon come to an end.

Specifically, there is to be a $41.7 million (143) program “to provide power costs security” at a level of three cents (2007) per kilowatt-hour (141). But “actual realization of the specific power cost target depends on several factors and variables and is not guaranteed by the Agreement” (141). To get the benefits, if any, participants must “enroll to support this Agreement and the Hydropower Agreement” (142), adopting the time-honored tactic of using borrowed fiat dollars to buy off political opponents of the Agreement.

Counties losing tax revenue from dam removal or suffering other adverse impacts (147) will be bought off by the “Counties Program” for economic development, though no level of funding is specified yet (148). Local losses may be even worse as more land is converted into into Tribal trust property; a “Mazama Forest Project” (138), rumored to involve converting 80-90,000 acres, appears to show a proposed funding level of $21 million (175). A related Klamath Tribe document [here] even suggests that the Tribe expects to “[s]ecure assurances that the Tribes and Tribal members will be given preference on contracting, employment and business opportunities generated on the Tribes’ ancestral homelands by the Settlement Agreement”.

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22 Jan 2008, 5:59pm
Third World wildlife and people
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Kenya’s Conservation Crisis: Set To Continue?

by Mike Norton-Griffiths

published in AFRICAN INDABA — Dedicated to the People and Wildlife of Africa.

Latest Edition (and full text) [here]

1977 was an important year for conservation in Kenya for it was then that sport hunting and all other consumptive utilization of wildlife were banned. It was also the year when the Kenya Rangeland Ecological Monitoring Unit (KREMU) began to monitor the numbers and distribution of livestock and wildlife throughout the 500,000 km2 of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid rangelands. So, perhaps uniquely, a major change in conservation policy coincided with a new capacity to monitor its effect and impact.

The monitoring results have been deeply disturbing, and by the mid ’90s a number of warnings were being issued about a major decline in wildlife right across Kenya’s rangelands, even in the most heavily used tourist areas. More recent analyses show that the rates of wildlife loss continue unchecked. Since 1977, Kenya has lost 60%- 70% of all its large wildlife.

The economic driving force behind these losses are the differential returns from agricultural, livestock and wildlife production. For most landowners, returns from agriculture are vastly greater than are those from livestock, while wildlife returns are so meager as to be uncompetitive with either. Furthermore, returns from wildlife, however small, are found only on 5% (23,000 km2) of the 500,000 km2 of rangelands where wildlife are found. No returns are made from wildlife anywhere else on Kenya’s rangelands so to the great majority of landowners wildlife is simply a cost that the Government expects them to bear.

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20 Jan 2008, 6:50pm
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Anthropogenic Fire and the Quino Butterfly

By Dr. Greg Brenner, consulting entomologist

Regarding a recent news article concerning Quino butterflies [here],

The Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) is part of the Euphydryas editha species complex that has diverged phenotypically into geographical set of populations, each recognized as a separate subspecies among Lepidopterists. Subspecies are erected because, to the trained eye, there are consistent differences between populations. The differences are often difficult to distinguish, and at times appear to be imaginary. However, whether or not subspecies should be designated as endangered when the species complex occurs over a larger area and is surviving quite well is discussion for another post.

Conservation of the Quino checkerspot and its sister species will depend largely on the continued existence of their larval host plants. These butterflies inhabit openings within or in the vicinity of shrublands, grasslands, meadows, and lake margins. Their presence is closely tied to their larval host plant, dwarf plantain (Plantago erecta) that inhabits chaparral, coastal sage scrub and valley grassland plant communities. These plant communities are fire-adapted vegetation types and many of their component species require fire to regenerate new growth or allow seeds to germinate.

Fires in chaparral often result in a mosaic of various-aged habitats, with different plant species dominating the landscape over time as post-fire vegetation dynamics occur. Very recently burned areas of chaparral may be devoid of any surface vegetation, but these areas typically support resprouting shrubs, as well as species that principally reseed only after a fire, and particularly if adequate rainfall occurs.

In areas where fires do not occur over a long period of time, the structures of these communities typically become tall and dense, with relatively few species compared to the period immediately after a fire. This leads to a reduced number of ecological niches in unburned areas, and the less diverse habitat supports a less diverse range of wildlife species. Fires open up habitats, and thus support a greater diversity of wildlife in a given area.

Studies have shown that fire enhances native species richness (see Harrison, Inouye, and Safford (2003) Ecological Heterogeneity in the Effects of Grazing and Fire on Grassland Diversity. Conservation Biology 17 (3), 837­845). This suggests that fire can be used to manage native species diversity.

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20 Jan 2008, 12:39pm
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Dumping Cute Wolves in Vallejo

Radical leftist Congressperson George Miller from the East Bay (the environs north of Oakland-Vallejo, Vacaville, El Sobrante, Pinole, etc.) has introduced H.R. 3663, the Wolves Are Cute Act. The purpose of H.R. 3663 is to halt predator control in Alaska.

However, the people in Alaska prefer to manage their predators without interference from nutball commie wackos from Vacaville, CA.

The Honorable Don Young, the sole Representative from Alaska, is opposed to Federal interference in Alaska’s predator and game management programs. Don wrote a stellar letter about the issue, which we post below, and he offered a very workable solution: ship Alaska’s surplus wolves to George Miller’s district.

Since California communists spout affection for cute and cuddly (albeit deadly) predators, that must mean the proles in Vallejo want to share their habitat with them. What a wonderful thing-wolves stalking children in the streets of Pinole instead of Anchorage.

Catron County, New Mexico may want to get in on this deal. The residents there must endure Federally-dumped wolf-dog hybrids prowling elementary schools, killing livestock and pets, spreading disease, and generally terrorizing children and adults alike. Why not round up the NM wolf-dogs and ship them to George Miller’s Congressional District, too?

Most of Miller’s constituency do not speak English, nor can they read or write. They’ll never know what hit them! One day the streets are filled with garbage and gangsters, and the next day they’re filled with rabid wolves. No one in El Cerrito will even notice.

“Es that a wolf running down the street, Consuela?”

“No, es our Congress-hombre, Jorge Miller, seeking fresh meat again. Bring the children inside quick!”

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15 Jan 2008, 7:54pm
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Just Who Is Baiting Whom?

One of the premier wildlife blogs in the Blogosphere is Wolf Crossing — Examination of the Wolf Reintroduction Program & Wolf Education (see [here] and in our Favorite Links).

Recently Laura at Wolf Crossing posted this excellent report [here]:

Groups want investigation into wolf baiting

In an Associated Press story, it has been reported that representatives of 15 conservation and environmental groups want Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to order an investigation by the inspector general into allegations that a Mexican gray wolf was baited into killing a cow so the wolf in turn could be killed. The allegations were printed in a December story in High Country News - an online, independent biweekly news magazine.

“The article was a total piece of fabrication,” Gene Whetten, manager of the Adobe Ranch in Catron County, said. “There is no truth from start to finish.”

The person quoted in the article, Mike Miller, works for Whetten, and, according to the AP story, has denied the allegations. He refuses to speak to the press.

Bill Aymar, Catron County manager, said he was “outraged” by the story and said, “Everything is political at this point.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the wolves out there and they set up a den,” Aymar said. “The ranch didn’t move.”

Whetten said the cows mentioned in the story were in the area before “the wolves went and denned there.”

He also reported that since the Aspen Pack, which was confirmed to have killed eight of Whetten’s cattle, with nine head reported missing, was removed by helicopter by USFWS on Dec. 2, “the cows quit dying.”

“We have no wolves that are collared in the area,” Whetten said. “As for the uncollared ones, who knows, but we haven’t seen any.”

“(The wolves) have run most of the elk out of this country, too,” Whetten said. “They don’t like being slaughtered and I would suspect they have found happier grazing grounds.”… [more]

That post drew this very special comment from Mary Macnab, one of the West’s most eloquent voices in defense of human rights and land stewardship, and an occasional and much appreciated contributor to SOS Forests.

Just Who Is Baiting Whom? by Mary Macnab

The wolf program has announced that it will be re-releasing problem wolves on an area scheduled to have mama cows calving. Do you ever hear from the program or the malicious groups in the above article about the fact, attested to by wolf biologists elsewhere, that there never was a core area here for any “recovery”, hence the constant depredations and endangerments experienced here, discounted and swept under the rug?

Do you often hear from them about the almost impossible amount of habituation problems and questionable genetics of these animals hand raised for generations?

Is even the smallest smidgen of thought or effort put into how many of these animals have succeeded by living existences shy of humans and their animals. And how many, and how long such can truly exist in an area before destroying their prey base and hungrily losing their shy disposition and wandering into someone’s pasture, and needing to be controlled?

Are there any true conservationists and biologists involved at all? Or are they such in name only, those titles merely attempts at subterfuge for the political shenanigans so evidently needed to continue a failing agenda in the above letter to Kempthorn?

Are the agendists really using the wolf as a weapon, a land torpedo if you will, for a sort of Stalinistic rural cleansing, to their stated agenda of achieving a people-less area here for their own personal self gratification at the expense of our communities, families and some of the last benign and sustainable existences left in the Arizona and New Mexico?

Just who is baiting whom?

I think this quote from Noam Chomsky speaks to the misinformation and agendas victimizing the people and their rights here.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of debate.”

10 Jan 2008, 3:32pm
Birds Endangered Specious
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Like a Redneck Sport

The barred owl blasting we predicted [here, here, here, here, here] has already begun. Self-described and alleged “biologists” and “researchers” have been driving around Northern California shooting owls with shotguns from the back of pickup trucks.

From the Oregonian yesterday [here]:

Shooting one owl to save another

A scientist says it’s an easy, inexpensive way to get rid of barred owls and help spotted owls

Michael Milstein, The Oregonian Staff, Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Biologists grappled Tuesday with the realities of shooting barred owls that invade the older forest habitat of federally protected northern spotted owls, a strategy critics say the Bush administration employs to help spotted owls while also trimming away at their preserves in an effort to open up logging.

A scientist who experimented with barred owl control in Northern California said it proved relatively easy, at least in limited areas of accessible forests, and removing some adult barred owls before nesting season could control the broader population and open a window for spotted owls to come back.

The cost would be relatively minor, Lowell Diller, a biologist with Green Diamond Resource Co. in Northern California, told researchers meeting Tuesday in Portland. He cautioned he wasn’t trying to make light of it, but said, “This is almost like a redneck sport — you do it from the tail of your pickup.”

A redneck sport! Not to make light of it, but what color is your neck, Lowell?

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8 Jan 2008, 10:34pm
Endangered Specious
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Alaska Gov Palin on Polar Bears

Listing polar bears wrong move

by the Honorable Sarah Palin — the 11th, and first woman, governor of Alaska.

Full text [here] and below:

The entire world has seen animated holiday images of cute, cuddly, polar bears smiling and dancing — and pitching cold soft drinks on TV and movie screens.

That’s the closest most Americans will ever get to a polar bear. To steal a line from one of the commercials, it’s not “the real thing.”

It’s unfortunate, because polar bears are magnificent animals, not cartoon characters. They are worthy of our utmost efforts to conserve them and their Arctic habitat.

For Alaska, that means recognizing that although climate change is a serious concern for everyone on the planet, it is not the only issue surrounding polar bears.

To help ensure that polar bears are around for centuries, Alaska has engaged in research and worked with the federal government to protect them. This includes a ban on most hunting — only Alaska Native subsistence families can hunt polar bears — and habitat protection measures such as set-asides around known denning areas to prevent bear harassment.

We are also participating in international efforts aimed at conserving polar bears worldwide.

The state takes very seriously its job of protecting polar bears and their habitat and is well aware of the problems caused by climate change.

But we know it will take more than protecting what we have — it means learning what we don’t know, which is why state biologists are studying the health of polar bear populations and their habitat.

As a result of those efforts, polar bears are more numerous now than they were 40 years ago. Despite what some may want you to believe, the polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s North Slope has been stable for 20 years.

Listing the bears under the Endangered Species Act is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.

There is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future — the trigger for protection under the ESA. And there is no evidence that polar bears are being mismanaged through existing international agreements and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

We’re not against protecting species under the ESA. Alaska has supported listings of other species, such as the Aleutian Canada Goose. The law worked as it should — the species was near extinction and a recovery plan resulted in goose recovery and delisting under the act.

Listing a currently healthy species such as the polar bear is based on uncertain modeling of possible effects. The listing is not justified.

The group asking for the polar bear listing recently disclosed that its goal is to force the government to either stop or severely limit any public or private action that produces, or even allows, the production of greenhouse gases. Such limits should be adopted through an open process where environmental issues are weighed against economic and social needs, and where scientists debate and present information that policymakers need to make the best decisions. But the act actually prohibits any consideration of broader issues.

Climate change is a serious issue and I urge all Americans to get involved by offering comments and suggestions to their state governments for action. But listing the polar bear as threatened is the wrong way to get to the right answer.

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